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What to do if your identity is stolen-part 3 of 3

In part two, we focused on what you can do to prevent your identity from being stolen.  Unfortunately, you could do everything on those lists and it might still happen-luckily, the chances become more remote.  If the worst does happen, knowing what to do if your identity is stolen will be critical so that you can take immediate action and clean up the mess quickly, saving years of aggravation and save your ability to get credit and even to get medical treatment.

  • If your social security number gets stolen, contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Division and request a Social Security Statement. (800)269-0271, or via the web at It’s unlikely a new social security number will only be provided unless there is proof of continued misuse.  Getting a new social security number isn’t that great a deal anyway; your credit history no longer exists and you will look suspicious to banks, lenders and law enforcement agencies when they find your old social security number.
  • Contact the post office immediately if you receive a notice stating that your address has changed and you didn’t initiate it
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review the reports carefully, they must be reactivated every 90 days. Be sure to change the mother’s maiden name identifiers on all financing accounts.  The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new, or change accounts in your name.
    • Equifax (800)525-6285          
    • Experian (888)397-3742        
    • TransUnion (800)680-7289  
  • In lieu of a fraud alert, you can place a credit freeze on your credit report-this prevents anyone, including you, to open new accounts and anyone, including prospective employers and landlords, from checking your report.  This is requested through the credit reporting agencies and remains in place until you permanently lift, or temporarily lift while you apply for credit.
  • If your identity is stolen, immediately close accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.  You might find out about these accounts when you receive unexpected bills in the mail, or you receive phone calls or mail regarding purchases you didn’t make.  Contact the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed with out your okay both by phone and in writing disputing the charges with copies of supporting documents explaining the inaccuracies. Written documentation should be sent ‘certified mail, return receipt requested’. Get verification in writing that the account was closed and fraudulent charges discharged.
  • It’s important to note that if your identity is stolen, you may not want to close credit cards that have not been invaded, or you won’t be able to use your own cards.
  • Take good notes about your conversations about the theft. Keep copies of documents and records.
  • File a police report with the local police department and obtain a copy of the report.  In San Francisco, that number is (415)553-0123.
  • Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. by phone (877)438-4338
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